Chelsea are box office! Ben Chilwell takes the lead on debut with goal and assist… but Sportsmail sees no comparison as one of FIVE watching at the cinema (expect for the £6.50 half-time hot dog!)
For Frank Lampard, this was box office. A Chelsea thriller starring Ben Chilwell, with Jorginho in a supporting role and Crystal Palace‘s Wilfried Zaha an extra in the background you might have missed.
For my other half, Jemma, who kindly joined me in testing out the Premier League’s cinematic experience, it was not quite an evening at the Oscars.
As we discovered in Stratford’s Vue Cinema, who claim supporters will forget they’re sitting in a theatre, you simply cannot replicate that feeling. Shouting is banned, masks must be worn, and the closest it came to the real deal was when we had to pay £6.50 for a hot dog at half-time.
Ben Chilwell was the star of the show on Saturday night as Chelsea demolished Crystal Palace
Sportsmail was one of five people who watched the game from a cinema showing in London
But still, those high-definition close-ups of Roy Hodgson looking more and more perplexed every time Palace conceded a goal showed how Chelsea turned the screw in the second half.
Palace were compact until Chilwell became the game’s protagonist. He scored Chelsea’s first, set up their second and was defensively sound throughout — practically the modern full back’s hat-trick.
The word ‘cool’ cropped up when Sportsmail spent a morning with Chelsea coach Ashley Cole recently and asked about his first impressions of Chilwell, the club’s new £50million left back.
Fittingly, Chilwell was the epitome of that on his 100th Premier League appearance and first for Chelsea.
Chilwell scored and was the most impressive Chelsea player at Stamford Bridge on Saturday
Chelsea were good value but watching football at the cinema does not compare with a stadium.
No amount of HD, surround-sound or overpriced popcorn can recreate that authentic atmosphere.
Popcorn rating: 2/5
He was cool when he scored, clearly knowing if Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita got in front of his shot then he would be taken into the net with it.
He was cooler when he crossed for Kurt Zouma to score and at his coolest when chesting down a Palace cross for his goalkeeper to collect, despite the obvious risks.
Jorginho then scored two penalties to complete the scoreline. Unfortunately for Chelsea’s midfield metronome, Jemma fell asleep for the final 20 minutes and missed that but Lampard didn’t. The 42-year-old spoke highly of him and added Chilwell ‘looked like he’d been playing for us for a long time’.
He then chalked it up to youthful exuberance that Tammy Abraham tried to take Jorginho’s second spot-kick, saying it was dealt with in the dressing room. ‘No problem,’ he said.
Lampard was particularly pleased with how they contained Zaha, who had 29 touches of the ball. Even Edouard Mendy, Chelsea’s goalkeeper, managed 27. This was Lampard’s 21st different defensive line-up in his 42 league games as Blues boss but the combination of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Zouma and Chilwell worked a treat.
Mendy was speaking to three of his backline in French but English to Chilwell. Lampard says they’ll figure it out along the way but they were speaking a universal language on the pitch.
‘Stability,’ was what the Chelsea boss said when asked what he wants from his defence this season. The way to achieve that is with a fixed back four.
Hodgson explained how his attackers didn’t do their jobs. He added he was not worried about Zaha, despite the winger’s desire to join a team fighting for European football. The transfer deadline is today and Zaha is set to stay, whether he likes it or not.
Meanwhile at Vue, the capacity of Screen Six is normally 200-plus, though there were only five of us in attendance, each paying £6.99 (£9.49 for the VIP seats). Nobody left before the final whistle and no popcorn or Tango Ice Blasts were thrown at the big screen so they likely weren’t supporting Palace.
This was a very good day for Chelsea, though Bayern Munich dampened the mood somewhat. The German club’s manager, Hansi Flick, unusually confirmed in a press conference on Saturday that they want to sign 19-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, who started this game. Lampard responded respectfully, adding Hudson-Odoi still needs to learn how to do the selfless work off the ball, like the departed Willian would last season.
But Chelsea got a win, a clean sheet from their new defence and a stellar league debut from Chilwell. And that’s a wrap.